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Fairyland Temptation

Tree

I’m half-convinced that not only are there Fairies at the University of Redlands, but that they’re actively trying to get me to join them.  Observe the evidence:

Asher and I walk Brian to work most mornings.  I was walking home a few weeks ago, and I passed a tree which had step stools of mushrooms leading up to its trunk.  I thought it was funny, and it made me wonder what kind of nyad would willingly live on a college campus near Frat Row.  The debaucherous type, I suppose.

I passed by the next day and the stepping stones were gone.  Closed for business was Fairy Land, I guess.

But then the lilies started to appear in strange places, big pink clusters of them peeking out of the ivy, no visible leaves but just a stalk rising from the dirt.  There is no rhyme or reason for their placement.  We’ve seen feathers falling from the sky, and a secret mailbox ensconced in a bush by the alumni house.  Half open, for temptation, of course.

This week I found a mushroom doorstop clinging to a tree, the joint where the roots meet making a perfect semblance of a door.  It’s been tempting me every day since, and that one hasn’t closed for business yet (probably because it’s not in the path of the mowing gardeners).

All of this, of course, can’t be just coincidence.

My question is, though, what kind of Fairy thinks that a 36 year old lady with a baby would go rushing off to join them?  What would I do with the baby?  He’s formula fed, and I wouldn’t know how long until we could get back so I’d be loathe to go without some assurance that he’d be fed.  I can picture myself loading up the stroller with eighteen canisters of formula, falling out on the sidewalk as I try and inconspicuously walk around campus to the tree.

Or worse… “Don’t worry,” the Fairies would say.  “We’ll feed him.” but we ALL know what that means.  I’d never be able to take him back to the mortal realm again.

I suppose I could leave the baby with Brian and go alone.  But I’d be forlorn without that boy.  And time passes differently in other realms.  I’d never take the chance that I’d miss seeing Asher grow up.

So I’ve been viewing it all with quiet amusement before going home to get the baby a bottle and put dinner in the crock pot.  Maybe do a few loads of laundry while I’m at it.

I’m writing a book about Fairies right now.  Maybe they’re just telling me they approve of my next novel?

Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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Self Publishing: The First Month – Amazon Ads

Self Publishing Update

So, I’ve now been the self-published author of a novel for a month.  Aside from the free promotion, I haven’t done anything except run ads via the Amazon system.  I feel like I’ve learned something? Maybe?

I think the book is doing pretty well, actually, for being a first novel in a genre that doesn’t typically sell in the indie market.  And for being a book with only four reviews.

I have sold 4 books since I ended the free promotion.  3 of those were hard copy and another 1 was a Kindle copy.  Kindle copies are where I make my money, so it was nice to have one.  The profit margin on the print book is slim (although not nothing, and I’m not really in this for the money anyway at this point).

I also had several Kindle Unlimited pages read, though that’s also hard to break down.  The reports tell me how many pages, since I get paid by the page.  But is it the same people re-picking up the book, or is it new readers?  We’ll never know…

My ads haven’t been working okay.  I’ve never written copy before, nor do I have any experience with advertising, so I’m being gentle with myself about it.  I’ll be rejiggering the ads today to make them better.

You may already know this, but with Kindle ads, you bid on a keyword.  If you’ve bid the most, whenever someone visits a book that’s classified under that keyword, they see your ad.  You pay if they click on it, otherwise it’s free.

I currently have 4 ads running.  On the first, I let Amazon pick my keywords. Hardly anyone has seen the book on this one – about 74.  On two other ads, I have about 450 people who have viewed it, but only one person on each ad has clicked on the ad and the report estimates I haven’t had any sales.  They don’t take Kindle Unlimited into account, though, so I think this might be where I’m getting some of those extra Kindle Unlimited pages from. On my third ad, about 650 people have seen it, but no one has clicked.

I ran the same exact keywords for all three ads I set up myself, so I’m not sure why everyone’s seeing the one and not the others.

So, I have two goals this month.  The first is to re-do the book description on the ad so it’s a little more punchy.  The second thing is to pick better keywords.  Right now, the ones I’m getting the most hits on are the names of other authors.  I plan to add in a greater swath of authors who I think write things that are like this book.  I’ll leave the Amazon auto-target ad alone, probably.

That’s a rundown of the basics.  In addition to redoing the ads, I’m considering a blog tour.  Most authors I’ve seen who have done it say they basically break even – they make about as much in book sales as they paid for the tour.  Still, I think it might be worth it for me from a review perspective.  The blog tour I’m considering would have 15 stops, so that would be 19 reviews on the book once I’m done if you add the ones that are already there.  I’d definitely consider buying a book with 19 reviews, where I’d look askance at 4.

That’s mostly all I have to say. For those who want to get into the nitty-gritty with me on the ad portion, I’ll post a little more detail below.

The book descriptions I went with on the ads are as follows:

  1. What do a spy, a runaway, a subversive print shop, and a queen have in common? Blue Gentian. You won’t be able to put this book down. (450-ish views)
  2. “Love at first page!” Looking for something new to read? You just found your next favorite epic fantasy with a strong female lead. (450-ish views)
  3. Traditional fantasy gets a makeover in this epic coming-of-age tale about leaving home to find it. You won’t be able to put this book down! (650-ish views)

I went with these descriptions partly because I read a book that told me that ads with “you” in them tend to do better than ads that don’t.

In this next cycle of ads, I intend to run descriptions 1 and 2, but not 3.  I also intend to run one that says “If Lord of the Rings and Little Women had a baby, Blue Gentian would be it. You’ll love this epic fantasy about leaving home to find it.”

I ran the following Keywords:

action, adventure, caravan, coming of age, council, epic, fantasy, female voice, gentian, healer, intrigue, kwed, little women, low magic, medicine, mission, notlimah, printing, queen, quest, shaman, spy, strong female lead, sword, tolkien, traditional fantasy, travel, travelers, traveling, wise woman, young adult

BY FAR Tolkien got me the most views.  Wise woman, shaman, and travel got me the next most, although I’m not sure travel is really doing for me what I’d like it to do.

This month I’ll add:

Shannon Hale, Le Guin, Dianna Wynne Jones, Chrestomanci, Uprooted, Naomi Novik, Wheel of Time, Rothfuss, Jane Austen, Jeff Wheeler, Veronica Roth, Sarah J. Maas, Harry Potter, Patricia C. Wrede

I may also take out some of the others that are probably deceptive (like travel), although it doesn’t cost me anything to bid unless the ad gets clicked on.  We’ll see where that gets me, and I’ll report back in another month!

Here we go…

Categories: Self Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Semester Limbo

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I finished my final class for the semester, and I’m pretty excited about it.  I loathe online classes, and although these were of the better variety I still didn’t like them much.  I just find it’s HARD to keep myself motivated to do the work without face-to-face interaction. Still, I’m now two semesters in to getting a Master’s degree.  Just three semesters left and I’m a credentialed kid.  Teaching English snobbery to the next generation of kids, here I come!

Part of the problem with the semester was that we were asked to do HARD things without a lot of prep.  One of my assignments was to come up with fifteen research articles on a single topic in prep for my senior thesis.  As long as it was related to Education, it was allowed.  I had to plan my senior thesis right now.  No guidance offered.

Too many options, man!

I did a lot of digging before deciding on a topic.  I’m allowed to write nine weeks worth of lesson plans in lieu of a giant paper, and so I plan to do a 9 week class on novel writing for high school students.  The research articles I found were fun and I think they’ll help.

I have a quick week off before I have to go back to school again.   I’m looking forward to it LOTS.  I miss my classmates, and am excited to being in class with some excellent instructors again.  My adviser and I have already been in contact about my student teaching (yay!).

It’s nice to be looking forward to the thing I’ve chosen to be my next career.  It makes me feel like I’ve finally found the right place.  Hopefully that feeling continues…

In the meantime, all my former homework time is going to writing.  Novel #2, here I come.

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Ceiling Fan Magic

This family just went on Vacation for the first time.  My Mother-In-Law had reserved a time share for a weekend up in Big Bear, but then ended up not being able to use it.  She offered it to us instead. And it was mostly a good time although VERY stressful.  The packing list alone, man… Also, Asher didn’t know what to think of it and refused to adhere to any kind of regular schedule while up there.  I worried.  Incessantly (he’s fine, of course.  He’s even sleeping soundly).

But we had good times amidst all my superfluous woe.  It was beautiful up there. And the weather was not a million degrees too hot to go outside.  We hiked, we swam, we enjoyed awesome Nepalese food at the Himalaya Restaurant, we strolled by the lake.

Asher didn’t care about any of that.  His favorite was the new and fancy suite to run around in.  New rooms with funky flooring!  Vertical blinds!  Oh, the remotes! And then there was his one true love, the ceiling fan.

I noticed it one morning when I had pulled him into bed with us.  He stood on the white comforter, one hand bracing himself steady on my hip, and gestured to the fan.  He stared at it, and his hands twirled.  His fingers extended out and then in again as he gestured, pulling his arm back, pushing his arm forward.

It looked for anything like he was performing magic on the fan.

So here is the question: what WOULD an eight-month-old want to summon from inside of a fan?  Or is he just trying to keep it running with his magic fingers?  He did this several times throughout the trip, too.  It wasn’t a fluke.

I don’t know, man.  I may be waiting for an owl to fly in my window in a few years with an epistle from Hogwarts.

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Self Publishing: First Book, First Week

First some housekeeping stuff.  I want to continue posting about how I’m doing with the book and what marketing I’m working on and all of that in service to someone else learning from my experiences, but I also realize that’s not why a lot of people follow this thing.  I’m going to be prefacing the headlines of these types of posts with Self Publishing: so you can ignore them if you’re not all about it.

That being said… here we go!  Week 1 of Blue Gentian was incredibly successful.  130 people downloaded the book for free.  It’s AMAZING that 130 people were interested enough in this thing to check it out. Thank you!

2 things I’ve learned over the last few weeks.

Thing 1: Several friends were asking me if they could actually PAY for the novel.  I wasn’t sure what to do about that, since I wanted to start running the book right out of the gate for free.  Does Amazon give pre-orderers the free price?  I didn’t know. So… it turns out that people who have pre-ordered the book pay for it, even if you run a free promotion on the day of the book’s release.  If you have people who actually want to pay, ask them to pre-order.  You can have your cake and eat it too!

Thing 2: I had originally planned to run a Kindle Free promotion, and then go for a Countdown Deal right after.  It turns out that Amazon won’t let you run those within the same KDP sign up time.  Every 90 days I can run either a Free promotion or a Countdown Deal promotion, but not both.  Boo.  But good to know for planning purposes.

Next we’re on to marketing:

Now that the book costs money, I’m wading into the area of Amazon Ads.  So far I only have Sponsored Product ads out there, and no Product Placement ads.  Product Placement got expensive, guys!  $100 is the minimum spend (yikes!). So, I’ll refine my copy on the cheap stuff and then worry about those costly ads when I have something I know probably works.

I know absolutely nothing about copywriting, and I think it shows… since the free promotion ended I have sold NO books.  I’m not terribly worried yet.  I’m playing the long game with this, not the short one.  I had also heard about this phenomenon.  Since Amazon separates out free from paid, you essentially start out at square one again when the free deal ends.  The internet warned me. But I am downloading copywriting books and faffing around with the copy on my ads now because things can always be improved.  I have five ads running right now, and they all have different descriptions enticing people to buy. We’ll see which ones actually do something.

Once I know I have copy that works, I’ll start faffing with Keywords.  That’s at least a month away, though.  I want to give the ads a chance to work if they’re going to.

Last is the bigger picture:

I’ve been thinking critically about how the book is presented and I realized today that I actually wouldn’t buy it if it came up in my feed as-is.  Everything looks great, but I always want a slew of reviews on my self-published titles to prove that they’re readable.  Right now, that’s the biggest thing I lack.  I’m discussing a possible blog tour because of it, though that’s also probably at least a month away.  I don’t want to be too annoying to my friends and family either, but I’ll also probably do a big social media request for reviews in about a month.  I’ll give everyone some time to read it first, though. And then after that, I’ll knock it off with the “please do this for me?” stuff so my friends don’t start to hate me.

What do I do while waiting for all the ads to aggregate and everything?  Work on my next book, of course!

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Kindle Free Deal Ending

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Just a quick PSA to let you know that the Blue Gentian free deal is ending today.  Last chance to download this thing for nothing!  Tomorrow it goes up to $4.99.  Thank you! You may now return to your regularly scheduled Sunday.

 

Categories: Fiction, Self Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blue Gentian Update

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In case you’re curious…

First of all 77 people have downloaded or bought my book in the last two days, and I’m SO THRILLED.  That was better than I’d hoped for in my wildest dreams.  Thank you all for checking out my work.  This book has been a long time coming, and I’m so excited that you have my back.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

In other news (!!!), last night I hit #41 on the top 100 Free Bestseller list for Epic Fantasy, which I NEVER thought to do.  I expected that I wouldn’t break into the top 100 at all.  Although that’s my best number, I’ve broken 50 in all Blue Gentian’s other categories, too. Something else to throw a party about.

Lastly, if you haven’t downloaded your free copy yet, we’re halfway through the promotion.  Just two more days until the price goes back to $4.99.   This is your friendly reminder to get the book sooner rather than later.

And thank you again.  It’s a little scary to launch a book – will people even care?  Will they read it? Will they like it?  You’ve answered at least one of those questions for me with enthusiastic gusto.  I can’t tell you how much that means to me.  I know I’ve said it a bunch, but seriously – THANK YOU.

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PUBLICATION DAY!!

Blue Gentian is officially out for publication, and I’m running it free for the next 5 days to thank you all for following me through this journey.  If you could please consider telling someone what you thought of it (especially consider reviewing it!) I would be the most grateful girl on the web.  Thanks in advance.

So what are you waiting for?  Go get your free copy!

Blue Gentian Cover - Final -

 

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A Nano Wrap Up

Camp-2018-Winner-Twitter-Header

Well, tomorrow is the end of Camp Nanowrimo, and I did VERY good this year.  In fact, shock of shocks, I won. I have an excellent track record at the regular Nanowrimo in November (I’ve won every year but last on account of, you know, going into labor and stuff), but I’m typically pretty terrible at Camp.  It lacks the urgency of November, and the cabins don’t really do anything for me.  Pep talks are also typically not as inspiring.  Still, it’s a good opportunity to have a little accountability.  I don’t usually win, but I usually get more done than I would have without participating.

I’ve been holding off on my writing this year (and honestly most of my hobbies, too).  The Small Boy takes precedence over everything right now.  But he’s becoming more self-sufficient with his entertainment and sleeping pretty consistently most nights.  Which means I found it pretty easy to scare up a bit of time for the writing this month.

I didn’t write things every night, though I did do things that furthered my writing career.  But I did write most nights, am about 1/3 of the way through the “final” draft of my next novel (before Autocrit, maybe Critique Circle, then 2nd/3rd party edits).  And I think, going forward, that I’m going to instate my old goal for the year.

  • I will write 20 days of the month for all the months left of 2018.

I think it’s totally doable, and I’m posting it here so that you can all keep me accountable to it.  I’ll include it when I do my rundown in December on whether I reached my goals for the year or not.  It may be a pipe dream, since the Alpha and Beta read process can take a long time, but I’m kinda hoping to get book #2 out to the world by this time next year.

Also, I GOTTA find a way to speed up that process…

That’s it for now.  T-minus 1 day until Blue Gentian releases!

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Publication: 5 Days

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If we don’t count today, I’m T-Minus 5 days to publication of my first novel.

I’m trying to play it cool, but I’m shrieking with glee inside a little bit.  It’s been a long time coming, first of all.  But second of all, it’s going to be so nice to be able to call myself a novelist and have it be a true thing.

I’m going to credit the baby for finally getting my act together.  It was so easy previously to dither about whether or not it was good enough, to think about how badly I’d feel if I didn’t sell any copies, to wonder if self-publishing would kill my career before it even started, to agonize over whether to find an agent.

From everything I’ve learned about the publishing industry lately, though, self-publishing seems to be the way to go for a quietly sweet novel that probably won’t ever be Harry Potter scale.  I queried my dream agent (because you never know), and then moved on.  I don’t need to have a huge readership.  I just need the right readership.

Becoming a mother and being on call 24/7 for baby duties as well as taking on a full time load at school has given me no time to think about anything.  I just have to do or do not these days.  In the three seconds I had between classes, I mocked up some covers.  In the single afternoon I was able to scrape together, I formatted the manuscript.  I didn’t have time to wonder whether or not this was right, or if I was brave enough, or if I was legit enough.  I did.  End of story.

Except that for you, it’s the beginning of the story.  Blue Gentian will be free next Wednesday, and I’d love it if you’d take a read.

As is written on the bottom of my query letter, Blue Gentian is my first novel.  I’m hard at work on my second.

 

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